[2007042] Erosophy

Erosophy (FringeTIX)

New Jazz Underground @ Club 199

4:00pm, Sun 18 Mar 2007

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, and there’s events all over the city – North Adelaide has their Food & Wine Fair (always a people magnet), and there’s the Fringe Family Day. So the fact that there’s only a dozen or so people gathered for a bit of jazz & spoken word is no real surprise; the sad jolt came later when I realised that, of the people I spied when I walked in, five of them were performing.

Shit. That makes me sad. Performers coming over from Melbourne for a single gig (well, Henry Manetta and The Trip had an earlier jazz show), and they only get half-a-dozen punters in. Oh well. Of course, after I sit down I realise I’m in Critic’s Corner, and wind up chatting with lovely ladies reviewing for two of Adelaide’s street mags.

Henry Manetta and The Trip open proceedings with some gentle jazz before Manetta performs a little solo scat singing; he’s great, alternately edgy and fabulously booming when required. The rest of The Trip were awesome, too, especially Ron Romero on sax. Matt Hetherington opens up the spoken word portion of proceedings, and I was initially unimpressed with the contrived rhymes in his first (of many) Love Poem; he hits his stride later with Some of Us, the gigglingly good Words I’ll Never Use In A Love Poem, and his choice of Ginsberg to close was solid. He also dropped the word “infinitude” into a poem, which earned big props from me.

Matt also played drums (bongos?) whilst Angela Cook read her piece Fucking, lending the performance the type of feel I always imagined the Beat Generation enjoyed. Angela was an ace performer – with a sparkle in her eye and a shy & knowing smile, her consonants linger and lead us gently through her lust. Fabulous.

Manetta and The Trip play a bit more either side of a break, kicking some solid grunt in at some point. Professional Lush almost trips over itself with its many distinct styles and solos, with Manetta lolling about the stage like a tripped-out skeleton. The sounds are great, and it’s entertaining to watch.

After the break, Helen Milte-Bastow takes to the stage – and she is awesome, though sadly her soft voice is a little overwhelmed by her backing music. But her words are great – vivid imagery, pop-culture references ahoy, and just plain beautiful. Kris Allison joins her onstage for the fabulous SMS Love Poem, before continuing with his own work – and he, too, rules the stage. Rambling yet tight, urban and insightful, one line etched itself into my skull – “You want to reach me, but I’m too universal”. Magic.

Hetherington returns to the stage to read some work by (the absent) Tom Joyce, accompanied by more Manetta scatting. The Trip come on for a great closer, with keyboardist Adam Rudegeair fronting up for some jazzy rap. And we’re done; I chat to several of the poets, quite possibly committing more of the faux pas that I’m renowned for. Bugger :}

One weird thing, though – there were two odd guys pottering around the venue throughout the performance with video cameras; one, accompanied by an obscenely bright light, had no idea what he was seeing. The spoken word performances left him completely bemused.

And that makes me laugh. And, hence, happy.

[2007041] The Ghosts on Ricketts Hill

The Ghosts on Ricketts Hill (FringeTIX)

the Suitcase Royale @ The Black Lung Theatre

11:00pm, Sat 17 Mar 2007

I’m still as impressed as fuck with the vibe in The Black Lung Theatre. Half-an-hour before the show, there’s groups of people huddled around playing cards, lounging around reading novels of weight, quiet stupors at the bar. And yet, conversations that float in the air contain words like “desktop widgets”. Then again, I’m sitting here in gaudy Okanuis with my laptop… it obviously takes all sorts.

Somone’s just yelled out “Does anyone have a CD of The Pogues?” The next song is AC/DC’s Back In Black. The stereo makes it sounds slow and sick. Maybe The Pogues have commandeered the CD player after all.

Thomas looks haggard. Shoulders drooped and cigarette clinging to his fingertips for dear life. Genevieve looks tired and ready for a break, but that smile’s still there. She says that the ‘Tiser review had a bit of an impact. I told her to seek out Nick Sun’s posters for a bit of anti-Advertiser inspiration.

The house, once again, seems full. I snaffle a deep and comfy lounge chair at the very front, from which I watch the Suitcase Royale perform The Ghosts on/from/of Ricketts Hill. And it’s a ramshackle affair; plenty of improvisation, plenty of bickering between the actors, plenty of off-script comedic asides. But, unlike the “fluffed line” asides that (say) the Three Canadians would perform, these are utterly convincing, totally natural.

Because they are.

Chatting with one of the Suitcase Royale after the show, my suspicions were confirmed: The Ghosts on/from/of Ricketts Hill is very much a work-in-progress, with the script being improvisationally developed in front of the audience every night, with the aim of having a “complete” piece at the end of the season.

This essentially means that, as a punter, you’re viewing a part of a much larger work of art; you’re watching the painter paint, watching the songwriter tinker with their instrument. And I, for one, find that strangely compelling; others, however, might be a little perturbed that they’re seeing an “unfinished” piece. But what you will see is a talented (and bloody funny) trio playing for laughs – some bits work, and some really don’t… and characters don’t mind commenting on the success of each bit as it’s put out there. The audience this evening loved it.

The show is rounded out with ELO’s “Livin’ Thing” – which is, of course, both entirely apt and a bloody great song.

[2007040] Percussion Spectacular

Percussion Spectacular (FringeTIX – too late)

Nick Parnell @ Flinders Street Baptist Church

9:00pm, Sat 17 Mar 2007

It’s a surprisingly big crowd for 9pm, for a Saturday night, for St Patrick’s Day. Of course, this performance is in the Flinders Street Baptist Church, so I can’t help thinking that a fair percentage of the crowd are good church-going folk.

Nick Parnell takes to the stage and hides behind a small collection of exotic drums. His opening is very low key, but quickly builds up with obvious African tribal influences & variable tempo. The rain sets in, Nick moves across to the marimba and glockenspiel. These sounds are not what we’re used to from typical Fringe percussion – they’re rich, vibrant, imbued with a sense of significance. Parnell controls the volume wonderfully well, raising us up and down a number of times until the rain finally peters out of “Marimba Song”.

It was a really, really good start.

Unfortunately, the performance then took a turn for the worse; Parnell was joined by his piano accompaniment (that’s not the bad bit), and he shifted across onto the vibraphone. I won’t beat around the bush – I don’t like the vibraphone. It sounds too clean, too pure. So when they proceeded to churn through three Gershwin Preludes and a chunk of Chopin, followed by a bit of Bach, I was just wondering when the vibraphonics were going to stop. With every piece, I was thinking “this would sound much better if that was played with the piano.” Sure, the actual act of playing was physically impressive, but the resultant noise was… less than wonderful.

Luckily, we return to the drums eventually for a self-penned piece – and things immediately begin to look up. Over to the marimba again, with a humorous aside for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, before finally returning to the fucking vibraphone.

Unlike (say) Ben Walsh’s shows, the unfortunately mis-named Percussion Spectacular isn’t a exhibition of raw speed, but more of passionate and measured precision. Even more unfortunately for me, then, that so much of the performance leant on the vibraphone.

(Don’t know your glockenspiel from your marimba from your vibraphone from your xylophone? Good thing Wikipedia’s here to help…)

[2007039] Selections from LCUK and Death to Your Dreams

Selections from LCUK and Death to Your Dreams (FringeTIX – sadly, one show only)

Sean M. Whelan and The Mime Set @ Jade Monkey

6:15pm, Sat 17 Mar 2007

I’ve never been to Jade Monkey before; it feels very much a club for the artistic – gritty tabletops, a mishmash of seating options, dim lighting assisted by high skylights, rough walls and ceilings, lime-green and black interior… far from the clean and polished and designer-cajoled feel of recent discoveries such as (say) the Duke of York. Very friendly atmosphere, though; and the beer garden is really… odd. Great view of the back of Toys’R’Us.

As the lengthy title somewhat suggests, this performance was a collection of snippets from two previous Melbourne Fringe shows, LCUK and Death to Your Dreams. The Mime Set were fronted by Sean M. Whelan, who recited fragments of his writings very much in the manner of a spoken-word performance, with a few concessions made to the timing of delivery. The first track is exactly what I was expecting; nice tense musical noodlings, gentle words evoking familiar emotions over the top… very pleasant.

Throughout, members of The Mime Set scoot between instruments with gay abandon; Seven Dead Astronauts, Seven New Stars sees Sam and one of the other guys (sorry!) spinning whirly noisemakers as appropriate, whilst the drummer handles keys (and a glass of white wine). Hey, The Mime Set are different.

But… but but but. The second track, LCUK, had me wide-eyed and agog. Wonderful music, gorgeous text. Later, Paper Skin is at once brooding and punchy, like the best bits of Radiohead and The Birthday Party all blended into one, reminding me of Nicole Blackman‘s stint with The Golden Palominos.

And the finale, Other People’s Houses… jesus. Stunning, one of those utterly brilliant Rock moments. All rock and power and weight and majesty. And it’s a song/poem about being a cat. Or something. I was too busy being gobsmacked by ROCK. It’s safe to say that was one of the moments that makes me glad to chase the Fringe, glad to be ALIVE.

I had the chance to squeeze in another event straight after this – I opted not to. I wanted to savour – no, revel in – the feeling this show left me with.

[2007038] Men of Steel

Men of Steel (FringeTIX)

Men of Steel @ Bosco Theatre

3:00pm, Sat 17 Mar 2007

For some reason, I’d interpreted the Men of Steel ad to mean that it was a puppet show with metal shadow-puppets; I’d completely missed the references to vegetables et al. So I was surprised to see the two Men – and one Woman – of Steel run amoc with the contents of a grocery basket; but the results are a true all-ages delight.

Presented atop a white bench and black backdrop, we open with a recreation of The Garden of Eden, with a cookie-cutter Adam and Eve clip-clopping across the benchtop to be confronted by a snake-guarded apple. After the brutal decapitation of the snake, there’s a clever birthing sequence where the apple is stamped by Eve… hard to explain, but the meme is there for me.

We then revisit the spectacle of Man landing on the Moon, the introduction of some dog-food alien thing, and… ummm… ooh shit, it’s getting a little tricky now. Regardless of the obtuse nature of the plot, the Men are firing our imaginations with a variety of characters and nonsense-speak and shopping.

Act Two is a visit to the cinema which devolves into a frank and earnest analysis of the inhuman brutality of war… or not. But there is the cooking of some popcorn which is used as ammunition by an invisible enemy in a Gallipoli-esque analysis of the inhuman brutality of war accompanied by the theme from Chariots of Fire. Once shot, the cookie-cutter man bleeds out via squirts from a sauce bottle – a stark and inventive bit of puppetry.

The final act shows us a big broccoli forest, a GIANT cookie-cutter character and a big mess as vegetables and condiments galore splatter the surrounds. The use of different materials for characters and scenery lends a certain visual appeal; but Men of Steel also assaults the sense of smell, too – the pungent dog-food soon being negated by burnt popcorn.

Between each of the three acts, the Men perform a quick clean of the benchtops – flicking excess foodstuffs onto the floor and following up with a quick squeegee, which often gets flicked in the direction of the audience. Be warned – the front row may get splashed with sauce, limp vegetables, or dog food.

On a mild Saturday arvo, the Bosco still managed to get pretty hot, humid, and stuffy – but the full house certainly didn’t mind. Everyone was laughing – adults, children, and childish adults(ie, me). Fantastic messy stuff.

[2007037] The Bird

The Bird (FringeTIX – whoops, one-night-only)

The Bird @ SoCo Cargo

10:00pm, Fri 16 Mar 2007

My first time in the SoCo (short for Southern Comfort… christ, I don’t think I’ve let Southern Comfort pass my lips since I hit legal drinking age), and it’s interesting; a decent stage, reasonable bar, big dancefloor / moshpit, and about half-a-dozen lounges. A decent enough venue for both of the shows I’ll be seeing here.

The first band for the evening, Die Swiss, was a four-man collective: samples, loops, guitar, keys. They were great – no, make that fantastic early, with high-tempo beats and textured guitar; however, later tracks were a little more introspective – yes, they provided some lovely depth, but it lost them support on the dance floor. Still, there were some Floyd-esque elongated drones in there (even akin to the Delta soundtrack on the C64) that win praise from me.

At midnight, Die Swiss clear the stage and The Bird start setting up. And my first thought was “why the fuck are they miking the drums? They’ll kill us all!” Thankfully, this proved not to be the case; apart from the double bass being a little overbearing, levels were great throughout – The Bird remained comfortably listenable, even without earplugs.

The crowd come flooding in for their set – suddenly, SoCo is packed. With a yell, they start – Walsh on drums (of course), Bobby Singh on tabla, Simon Durrington on keys, and Barry Hill on double bass. It’s fast and furious, the tabla lends an exotic feel, and the powerful bass and crisp drums underpin the sound.

Walsh is also on crowd-chat duties; his call-outs to the drum’n’bass aficionados in the room raise the roof, and he really knows how to work the crowd into a frenzy by dropping the intensity of his drumming and then working it back up in a monstrous tidal wave of percussion. It’s really quite breathtaking.

…the first time. Maybe the first half-a-dozen times, truth be told. But then it hits me – most of these tracks sound the same. All the beats and skips seem to be identical, varying only (a little) in tempo. Walsh’s constant ascensions and vocal crowd wind-ups just became tired and predictable. Which is ironic, given Walsh’s assurance that they were using “no sequencers – it’s all us”.

In the end, a single hour was all I could manage – and that was only because I accidentally spied a rockin’ impromptu dance-off between two very flamboyant dancers who happened to bump into each other on the dancefloor. He had the leg-speed and the fancy twists, She had a far greater variety of moves and breasts. She won :)

[2007036] Dan Willis – RadioHead

Dan Willis – RadioHead (FringeTIX)

Dan Willis @ Bull & Bear

9:00pm, Fri 16 Mar 2007

Not initially on the shortlist, I sought tickets for Radiohead on the advice of my ex-boss: “it’s a must-see, make sure you book early!” he intoned. Book early… right. I bought my ticket at 3pm on the day of the performance, and – with the room only half-full on a Friday night – I’m not sure it necessitated the emergency run to a FringeTIX office.

Dan Willis, as he mentions more than a few times, is an observational humourist. He tells stories, accompanied by his little flip-chart of associated images and the odd song or two. He also hates the audience talking. Or making noise. And he’s serious about it… he heard chatter a few times during the show and dropped into stone-faced mode, explaining his rules of etiquette to the perpetrators in elaborate detail.

Now, normally I’m supportive of The Artist laying the rules down and getting heavy with a shitty audience – but something in his manner just pissed me right off. Shouldn’t he be applying his craft to amusingly toy with rogue audience members like bound kittens? Apparently not – his comedic superpowers are restricted to telling rudimentary stories with limited humour and creating a plethora of laugh-free dead zones. Even the use of music as triggers for his stories failed to inspire much interest.

Thinking back, not one story or joke or meme leaps out and grabs me. I know I laughed at some point, but I’ve no idea at what. But that’s the problem, really – raised expectations, coupled with a “meh” show, leads to one being hugely underwhelmed.

I guess my takeaway from this performance was the knowledge what word-of-mouth really means to a show like this – I know myself and six ex-co-workers wouldn’t have come to this performance were it not for the (misguided) ravings of my ex-boss. I guess it’s just as well no-one reads these posts, then, lest Dan Willis would be getting even fewer peeps to his shows; because this was a decidedly average performance, unworthy of consideration in the face of far more enjoyable entertainment.

[2007035] Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth (FringeTIX)

Egiku Hanayagi Japanese Dances @ The Mercury

6:30pm, Fri 16 Mar 2007

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile (and if you claim that to be true, then you’re a liar), you’ll know that I always try to squeeze in some Shakespeare. I love Bill’s work, I really do. And, with the “straight” version of Macbeth looking a little uninspired, I thought that this dance piece might satisfy my bardly cravings.

Ummm… no.

The Mercury darkens, and the lighting (which remains superb throughout) gradually lifts to reveal Egiku Hanayagi kneeling amongst a field of stemmed roses (at least, I thought they were roses. The program mentions amaryllises, but they don’t look at all similar). In due course, she slowly begins stripping the flowers from the stems, tossing the results into two separate piles. After all flowers are thus treated, she leaves the stage; another figure appears and, ever-so-slowly, gathers the mess into a box and takes it offstage. The cleaning lady, if you will.

Ummm, then someone else slooooooooowly wanders across stage. And finally, a knife makes an appearance… “Out! Out! Damn Spot!”… oh wait, they aren’t spots, they’re flower petals.

And then the performance ends.


Look, if this piece were entitled “Deliberately Slow Japanese Dance” I’d have been far more inclined to actually enjoy this; as it was, however, I spent a good deal of the first half trying to correlate the performance to the text… and failing. As a result, I spent most of the second half thinking of Kate Box’s features and the character of Mrs Gollancz in The Ecstatic Bible. The reason I managed to multitask so efficiently is because everything happens so slowly. Go on, check for yourself – how many times did I mention “slow” above without resorting to a thesaurus?

“Slow” is far too nice a word, though – “laborious” seems more apt. Sure, movement is very deliberate, very precise… but that would indicate there’s some direct artistic intent. And, whilst other punters left The Mercury saying “ooh, she really captured the whole text,” I wasn’t one of them. In fact, this is the only show so far this year I’ve nodded off in – the moment of absolute clarity when your head snaps back was the highlight of the show.

To be honest, this is the most passionless response I’ve had to a show in 2007. No hate (as in Dances of India), nothing pleasurable. Just… nothing.

At least the red flowers looked stunning in the stage’s lights.

[2007034] Sin City, the Vaudeville Years

Sin City, the Vaudeville Years (FringeTIX)

UNLV College of Fine Arts @ Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre

4:00pm, Fri 16 Mar 2007

Wandering into the Nexus for the first time this year, there’s a clutch of vested men tinkering around on a number of marimba (marimbas? marimbae? marimbarama? Who knows? And, more to the point, how can I be sure it was a marimba instead of a xylophone? Amazingly educational, this stuff) and a drummer playing gently jazzy tunes. A lone showgirl dancer comes on-stage and prances about a bit – nothing extravagant, just a pre-show stretch and jig. There’s a fair whack of people in – more than I would’ve expected, given the (relative) slating this received in the press. I chat with the guy handling the visual parts of the show; he’s controlling it all from his iPod. I reckon that’s really neat.

The doors close, the band kicks into a playful version of “When The Saints Go Marching In”, accompanied by a bit of slapstick from the band members. It’s their moment in the spotlight, as they’re pretty transparent for the rest of the performance. We’re then introduced to The Vaudeville Twins – a petite white woman and a less-petite black man – and are privy to multiple iterations of their lame jokes and lamer magic as their Vaudeville show travels across the USA… as their tour drags on, the enthusiasm and delivery deteriorates in quite an amusing manner. The closing Overture highlights this – the leg kicks get lower and lower, the choreography droops – fantastic :)

There’s a bit more singing, but that typically only highlighted some technical issues – the singers’ mikes were pretty crunchy, and one mike kept dropping out. But the show finishes with a sufficiently rousing rendition of “Viva! Las Vegas”; lovely costumes and general professionalism also stick in the memory.

I’m not saying that this is anywhere near the best shows of the Fringe – but, with its tongue firmly in cheek, Sin City was still and enjoyable hour. I smiled, I giggled, I clapped and cheered. Was it worth $20? Maybe – overall, though, I guess I was just stoked that the University of Nevada(!) would decide to send a troupe of nigh-on twenty to Australia for such a short season. That makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

[2007033] Sammy J’s Weak (and Randy)

Sammy J’s Weak (and Randy) (FringeTIX)

Sammy J & Randy @ Bosco Theatre

11:00pm, Thu 15 Mar 2007

Sammy J’s “solo” show didn’t make my shortlist because, in short, I thought he looked like a complete goober in the photo of his ad. Facile, and piffly, but true. That’s all it takes to not make it on my shortlist, kids.

However, the description for this “duet” in the Garden Guide did manage to suck me in. And, after a mercy dash from Hindley Street after Kissy Kissy ran over, I squeezed into a packed Bosco just as they were introduced.

Sammy J looks (and acts) like a skinnier, un-camp Bob Downe (of course, Downe’s whole schtick is camp, so… ummm… take from that what you will – the meme works for me). His sidekick Randy is an enjoyably foul-mouthed pink turtle head, and the patter between them is fast and furious. And blue.

There’s also a bit of audience participation – and again, I managed to get picked on, although I scared Sammy J away after mentioning that I felt uncomfortable with him standing behind me while talking about wedgies. Their songs are snappy and alternately clever (the Backwards Song), ruder-than-rude (the Fingering Song) or just plain funny (everything else). An off-colour Andrew McClelland also appeared to briefly plug his show.

Most impressive of all, however, were Randy The Puppets fierce profanity-ridden tirades, impressive in length & breadth of language… and not just naughty language, either; this puppet’s vocabulary stretched far beyond the four-lettered variety. Breathtaking.

In short, this was a bloody good hour of fun. Cabaret duets don’t get much more rapid-fire, bawdy, or laugh-a-licious than this.

[2007032] KISSY KISSY


The Black Lung @ The Black Lung Theatre

9:30pm, Thu 15 Mar 2007

I arrived a touch early – people are streaming out onto Hindley Street. Assuming they’re exiting from the previous show, I wait for the flow to slow to a trickle, then enter. The foyer is still packed. I bump into Thomas again – he recognises me. “Hey, you came back!” he exclaims, genuinely surprised and with a hint of frantic in his eyes – there are people everywhere. I assure him that he’ll be seeing a lot more of me, too, given the impact of Rubeville. Before darting off, Thomas says “just check -in with Genevieve up front – we’re a bit busy tonight, and I want you to get a good seat.”

Illuminated by a desk-lamp and clad in white, Genevieve is a beacon at the front-of-house. Amidst a sea of sweaty and apprehensive folks, many eying with trepidation the rough interior of the Black Lung for the first time, she’s an island of calm, telling the unprepared that this evening’s performance is sold out, but if they’d like they can go on the waiting list for a standing-only spot. Very friendly and with a gorgeous smile, but careful with it. The house is restless – it’s hot and humid, and the hype is here.

Kissy Kissy has gone down well with the press. Word-of-mouth seems to be spreading, too.

Eventually the audience moves into the performance area… it’s not much cooler in there. The performers are sitting in the front row – he looks pensive, she looks cold and detached. We’re all in and seated (except for those lucky to be standing), and the performance is off & running.

Ostensibly, this is a very simple show – we’re presented with a man and woman. We see them as they meet, a gloriously – and laughably – tense first kiss; we’re with them as the relationship flourishes; we’re attached when it all goes horribly wrong. But for all the rough-hewn nature of the Black Lung Theatre, Kissy Kissy is polished to the n’th degree – it glimmers and shines and connects with the audience in a way that few other performances do.

There’s stunning use of music – “Whole Lotta Love”, “The Final Countdown”, “Eternal Flame” all impart massive comedic relief into proceedings, and the audience bears witness to perhaps the best sex scene ever portrayed in a Fringe show. There’s some Dylan-esque card-flipping, cunning lighting (even though the main overhead light died in the middle of the piece), and a mournful wave goodbye.

But none of that’s what makes Kissy Kissy so compelling… in the bright light of day, I have to admit that it’s far from the most powerful show. Nor the funniest. Nor the grittiest. Nor the edgiest.

What Kissy Kissy has – and has in spades – is familiarity and heart.

It’s all true. Every bit of this performance rang true to me. I’ve seen it all; none of it seemed contrived, it was real to me. And because the relationship builds upon this familiarity, you aren’t watching these people on-stage; you are the people on-stage. The breakup, when it comes, is genuinely heartbreaking for the audience, because it’s happening to them.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Regardless, this is the most engaging piece of theatre I’ve seen in ages. It connected.

It was me.

[2007031] A Dingo Stole My Latte

A Dingo Stole My Latte (FringeTIX)

A bunch of Northerners… and Big Al @ Duke of York

8:00pm, Thu 15 Mar 2007

I’ve never been to the Duke of York before. Sure, plenty of shows in past years that were based here had been shortlisted, but then readily dropped as being “too difficult” – that is, I was scared to try a new venue. What a puss.

Anyhoo, I pop my DoY cherry, grab a beer, and have a peek around. It’s a really nice pub, and the performance area upstairs is ace. That, and I hear the Mario theme on the stereo. How fucking cool is that?

A Dingo Stole My Latte consists of three acts from the Northern Territory, and must have got some good writeups (then again, what show hasn’t? …cue un-witty and completely fucking obvious “‘Tiser reviews are shit” comment), because there’s a stack of people here… a lot of more, ummm, elderly folk, too. That is, older than me. Which is certainly getting on in years.

Local comedian Big Al opens for the NT boys, and he’s certainly improved his act a shitload from when I last saw him. Adelaide-centric jokes are thick on the ground for all these guys, but Big Al hammers the Elizabeth/Port Adelaide/Noarlunga jokes home. Good stuff.

I have to admit, my research isn’t 100% on this one, so names may be hopelessly wrong :}

Craig Zee is a big guy. And jesus, can he drink. Reasonably funny, too – his “cyclone warning” bit was ace. Phil Denson, a goofy scrawn of a chap, is going to beat the living shit out of me if I’ve confused his name with Craig’s. He opens with a cracking song – “Hermaphrodite Aphrodite” – but then fails to deliver anything near as good (though his tales of sword fights were pretty reasonable).

The two chaps who comprise “Separated At Birth”, however, have all the makings of being a great double-act. They bounce brilliantly off each other, wonderful timing, and their One-Line Song was a gutbuster. Their buffoonish set-up for an otherwise pissweak Macarena joke was, in retrospect, staggeringly well executed.

In short, you could do a lot worse than getting your Latte stolen by these chaps. Whilst it’s not the most cohesive and even hour of comedy ever, there’s some fresh material – and attitudes – hidden amongst it.

[2007030] Wrong and Broken

Wrong and Broken (FringeTIX)

Hannah Gadsby @ Rhino Room (Downstairs)

6:30pm, Thu 15 Mar 2007

I heard Hannah Gadsby say about three words at the Fringe Launch; for some bizarre reason, she left me with the expectation that she was the female Nick Sun (in the same way Maeve Higgins is the female Andrew McClelland). This turned out to not be the case but, far from being disappointed, I left this show with another comedian on the “see again” list.

Hannah introduces herself very quietly, no real fanfare – in fact, most of her act is dry and unflourished, nearly monotonic. It works very well, and her timing is fantastic. The Subject is broached early – yes, her name is a palindrome, and by the way she’s a lesbian. Occasional “my rubber dick’s thinking for me” jokes, ahoy.

Most of the rest of her act revolves around a story penned when she was seven, Sifon Sofen Meets The Dragon, which she claims was an accurate predictor for her life. And so we follow the trials and tribulations of Sifon Sofen the imaginary red goat; from Hannah’s earliest experiences in small-town Tasmania, hardships through her injury-is-a-lifestyle-choice mother, to her family coming-out events, it was all predicted by little seven-year-old girl.

Or something. There might be a bit of artistic license being used, there. Regardless, it was bloody funny stuff.

Gadsby finishes her act by trying to reclaim her femininity from her dress-like-a-boy-handmedowns Mum by gyrating her shapely hips doing a bit of a pole-dancing routine. Now – this would have just been a good sight gag – if she hadn’t thrown her glasses into the crowd. Thereafter, she was staring empty-eyed and awkwardly in the general direction of the audience, like a freakishly obsessed stalker.

Funny and terrifying – nice :)

[2007029] abstract : narrative

abstract:narrative (FringeTIX)

inverted dance theatre @ Holden Street Theatres (The Studio)

12:30pm, Thu 15 Mar 2007

When one wants to see a metric shitload of shows, one must make certain concessions when performing one’s scheduling. One of these concessions is that matinee timeslots are almost mandatory; and the problem with matinees is that they’re school friendly. This means that schools can easily broaden children’s exposure to The Arts by dragging them out to shows; when the students are genuinely interested in the artform at hand, this is a very good thing. When the students don’t give two-fifths of fuck-all about the art, just seeing the excursion as a good excuse to Not Be In School, then this is BAD.

Guess which category of student was in this performance?


abstract:narrative is a pair of dance pieces that rely heavily on movements and feats more frequently found in the typical Garden circus/cabaret piece, which gives the work an interesting aesthetic. I’m not really sure whether the more traditional dance work gels with the strength-and-hold demonstrations, and sometime the transitions between the two styles appear jarring; but it is still a curious mix.

The opening piece takes place on and around a backyard swing-set, the two dancers clad in school uniforms, childish grins and joyous expressions of discovery on their face. Both my neighbour and myself were convinced that there was some undercurrent of exploratory faux lesbianism there – wishful thinking, perhaps? A change of music, the mood darkens, the girls get a bit more competitive, combative… there’s some interesting lighting with a Dolphin torch (which would’ve been spectacular with a bit of a haze effect), some minor acrobatics, and we’re done.

The schoolkids run out to get loaded up on sugar and chips. The second piece starts with rustles and giggles and coughs and reply coughs and giggles and rustles and shushes and louder shushes and rustles and shushes and teachers bounding over chairs to menace the back of the crowd. The dance is much better, an abstract piece which is more exploration of movement – and the control of movement – than classical dance. There’s a feeling of restraint, a tenseness in the muscles, and it’s beautiful. The music is ambient, then softly beating, but a perfect match. And then it’s over, there’s applause, and the dancers leave the Studio.

And then the fun starts.

The bounding teacher starts tearing strips off the kids. I’ve never, ever – not even in the days where the yard-stick and the cane were deemed legitimate teaching methods – seen a teacher verbally attack students so viciously. Limp protestations only drew more ire; it was a joy to watch. After the audience had spilled outside, I commended the teacher for her actions:
“Thanks for laying into those kids – hopefully they’ll learn something, even if it’s only theatre etiquette.”
She looked at me, tired. “Thanks – and I’m sorry, really I am.”
I tilt my head – “What school are you guys from?”
She sees where I’m going: “Temple College… Again, I’m really sorry.”
“That’s OK.” I catch myself… “Actually, it’s not OK. You should have another go.”
She looks forlornly at the ragtag bunch of school uniforms wandering back to Grange Road to catch a bus back to school. “…Yes, I will.” She trots off with a sigh.

Steph Hutchison and Kathryn Newnham deserve medals for not spitting the dummy at the shithead kids in the audience, they really do. They’ve presented a competent and engaging performance, only to be shown utter disrespect by a bunch of shitheads. Hey, I’m generalising – I talked to a few of the students who were as appalled as I about the behaviour of The Guilty – but it suddenly struck me that, when teachers remind you that “if you’re wearing the uniform, you’re representing the school”, it’s really true. A truism from an adult when you’re a kid? Preposterous.

Harrumph. Giggle. Harrumph.

[2007028] Geraldine Quinn – SexDeathBowie

Geraldine Quinn – SexDeathBowie (FringeTIX)

Geraldine Quinn @ Rhino Room (Downstairs)

10:15pm, Wed 14 Mar 2007

There’s nothing quite like going to a show with mixed expectations and being blown away.

Geraldine Quinn sings, plays guitar, and – in between – displays a razor sharp wit, hidden beneath a laidback style and seemingly unobtrusive patter. Showcasing her songwriting talent, she manages to also straddle the lines of decency (criticising Delta Goodrem for not having a “real” cancer), crassness (the morning-after song – “it seemed like such a good idea at the time”), as well as writing a most beautiful song for her 10-year old niece – “it’s all downhill from here”.

From the opening track (with the only mention of Sex, Death, or Bowie in the show) to the venomous encore (slaughtering The Veronicas), Quinn’s songs are – without doubt – the funniest I’ve heard at a Fringe. Ever. Including The Arrogant Worms and Tripod.

Yes, she’s that good. Quinn’s the complete package – great writer, stunning voice, and a fabulously endearing presence.